Butt, Asif, Aamir face conspiracy charges in UK

London, Feb 4 (PTI) The tainted Pakistan trio of SalmanButt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were today charged withconspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments and to cheatby the UK prosecution service in the spot-fixing scandal thatrocked world cricket last year.

The three cricketers, who have been suspended sinceSeptember last by International Cricket Council, have beenissued summons by Britain''s Crown Prosecution Service to afirst hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates'' Court onMarch 17.

Bookmaker Mazhar Majeed, who made the revelation in a''News of the World'' sting operation that the three playerstook money to bowl deliberate no-balls during the Lord''s Testbetween Pakistan and England in August last year, was alsocharged with the same offences.

This comes after the three players and Majeed wereinterrogated by London Metropolitan Police. Majeed wasarrested but later released. A third fast bowler, Wahab Riaz,was also interrogated.

"We have decided that Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Asif,Salman Butt and their agent, Mazhar Majeed, should be chargedwith conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments and alsoconspiracy to cheat," Simon Clements, head of the CPS SpecialCrime Division, said.

"These charges relate to allegations that Mr Majeedaccepted money from a third party to arrange for the playersto bowl ''no balls'' on 26 and 27 August 2010, during Pakistan''sFourth Test at Lord''s Cricket Ground in London," he said.

"Summonses for the same court date [March 17] have beenissued for the three players and they have been asked toreturn to this country voluntarily, as they agreed to do inSeptember last year. Their extradition will be sought shouldthey fail to return," he added.

The framing of the charges came just a day before anInternational Cricket Council tribunal announces itsconclusions on the case in Doha tomorrow. The tribunalinterrogated the players over 45 hours in Doha last month.

The players have been suspended from all forms of cricketsince September 3 after the British tabloid alleged theybowled no-balls at prearranged times during the fourth Test atLord''s to fix spot-betting markets.

The trio were alleged to have obtained 150,000 pounds(USD 241,000) through Majeed who was believed to have accepted50,000 pound to set up the deal.

CPS head Simon Clemence said his organisation, which wasresponsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated byBritish police, believed it had sufficient evident to convictthe players.

The three players could be subject to extraditionproceedings if they do not return to Britain next month. PTIPDS MRM

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